Acid aspiration-induced systemic organ injury is mediated by the sequestration of activated neutrophils (PMN). In other settings cytokines have been shown to increase neutrophil-endothelial adhesion, a requisite for injury. This study tests whether the systemic leukosequestration and permeability following localized aspiration is mediated by tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-induced synthesis of an adhesion protein. Anesthetized rats underwent tracheostomy and insertion of a fine-bore cannula into the anterior segment of the left lung. This was followed by the instillation of either 0.1 mL 0.1 N HCI (n = 18) or 0.1 mL saline in control rats (n = 18). Localized aspiration induced generalized pulmonary leukosequestration with 95 PMN/10 high-power fields (HPF) in the aspirated lung and 46 PMN/10 HPF in the nonaspirated lung, higher than control values of 7 PMN/10 HPF and 5 PMN/10 HPF in saline- and nonsaline-aspirated sides, respectively (p < 0.05). The leukosequestration was associated with permeability edema shown by increased protein concentrations in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) of 3900 μg/mL in the aspirated and 2680 μg/mL in the nonaspirated side, higher than saline with 482 μg/mL and 411 μg/mL, respectively (p < 0.05). There was generalized pulmonary edema following aspiration measured by increase in wet-to-dry weight ratios (w/d) of 6.6 in the aspirated and 5.1 in the nonaspirated lung, higher than control values of 3.5 and 3.4, respectively (p < 0.05). Localized aspiration led to systemic leukosequestration documented by increases in myeloperoxidase activity (units/g tissue) of 2.2 and 1.7 in heart and kidney, higher than control values of 0.3 and 0.4, respectively (p < 0.05). This event was associated with edema of these organs with w/d ratios of 4.6 and 4.3, relative to control values of 3.0 and 3.4 (p < 0.05). Treatment of animals (n = 18) 20 minutes after aspiration with anti-TNF-α antiserum (rabbit anti-murine) but not normal rabbit serum (n = 18) reduced lung leukosequestration in the aspirated and nonaspirated segments (61 and 32 PMN/10HPF), BAL protein concentration (1490 and 840 μg/mL), and w/d ratio (4.3 and 3.7) (all p < 0.05). In the heart and kidney there were reductions in myeloperoxidase activity (0.7 and 0.6) and w/d ratio (3.5 and 3.6) (both p < 0.05). Treatment of rabbits (n = 18) with the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide, 0.2 mg/kg/hr was as effective as TNF-α antiserum in modifying aspiration injury. The data indicate that TNF-α mediates acid aspiration-induced local and multisystem organ injury, in part by a mechanism involving an inducible endothelial adhesion protein.